I wrote 2,500-3,000 words attempting to write an essay about a person. That's two essays that failed. I couldn't make it work. My mom is just too complex and I tried too hard to explain her and 1,500 words just isn't enough for that. So, third time's the charm, and even though I forgot a couple of things, this is what I ended up writing for Creative Nonfiction - an essay about a person:
Good Morning, Mom
Kim wakes up at “some ungodly hour,” as she describes it, just before six o’clock. Her blue eyes open but her body remains in place. Lucy gets up to do her morning prowl to ensure that the house is up to her feline standards – rodent and insect-free, no strange humans, all family members accounted for. Lucy returns to her king-sized bed and paws at Kim’s hands, requesting entry beneath the covers and seating on top of her palms. Kim is well-trained and puts out her hands for Lucy to lie down on. Lucy curls up on her facing away so that Kim can use her as a pillow. As they cuddle, Kim listens to the national and international news on CBC, and then the local news at 6:30AM. She says, “The first news makes me think, ‘Okay, time to start getting up,’ and the second news, ‘Oh, fuck.’” By 6:37AM she is up.
As Kim walks to the kitchen, the old hardwood flooring creaks beneath the Lucy-toy-covered area rugs that struggle to help keep the house warm. Frost no longer coats the trees and grass outside in the mornings, but the old windows don’t keep the heat in the way they should. Lucy jumps onto a chair to get Kim’s attention and she looks up at her, pleading for her morning treats. While the water for coffee is boiling, Kim submits to her cat’s desires and watches the little Siamese gobble up every treat. Kim reaches into the fridge for the coffee cream, which is next to a large ceramic dish that is two-thirds full of the broccoli-chicken lasagne she made the night before. Among the boxes and boxes of all kinds of exotic teas, of which she only drinks the black ones, sits a glass jar of vanilla-flavoured Nescafé right in front. She plops one teaspoon of it into her bright red oversized mug, along with one, two, three teaspoons of sugar, followed by a generous splash of cream. She pours the water, which is still rumbling in the kettle, almost right up to the rim and immediately it begins to dissolve and mix the ingredients of Kim’s sweet, creamy concoction. Before taking a single sip, Kim showers and by the time she is out, her coffee is at a perfectly drinkable temperature.
She goes into her fifteen year-old son’s room to wake him up. Depending on her mood, she wakes Adrian using one of several different methods: by opening the blinds, smothering him with kisses, or putting Lucy on him. He groans and it often takes several reminders for him to get up before he actually does so. She also reminds him to brush his teeth, have a cup of milk, and take a lunch to school. He says she doesn’t need to tell him all these things but she insists that she does. “Because that’s my job.”
Kim goes back to her room to get dressed. She looks at her body and remembers how thin and toned it once was, how much tennis and volleyball she played when she attended Simon Fraser University (to which she was admitted at the age of sixteen), how much she loved to play in the Co-ed softball league in Stanley Park. After having kids and moving to the suburbs, being active became more difficult, and at that time she did not cook the kinds of healthy, hearty meals she makes today. But she walks to work every day, rain or shine, letting her sporty, red, manual transmission, Volvo S40 sometimes seem like a decoration in the driveway –a decoration that is occasionally taken out for trips to Costco, a decoration that she loves to take out for road trips, especially the yearly autumnal trip to Chemainus which is done only for fun and for the retrieval of pumpkins.
She covers her colourful La Senza underwear with grey work pants and digs out a light flowery blouse from her closet that she has only worn a couple of times since its purchase. She looks at herself in the mirror, unsure if she looks okay. She goes to her nineteen year-old daughter’s room. Lucy has taken over her lap. Kim asks Oriana what she thinks of the blouse and the young girl gives Kim her approval.
Before Kim leaves, Oriana says, “I hate you, by the way.”
“Why?” Kim asks, pretending to look innocent.
“You know why.” Oriana glares at her. “Your hair.”
“My hair? Why?”
“Because it’s so curly!”
“That’s not my fault. Have a traumatic experience, like get a divorce after twenty years of marriage, and then maybe your hair will go from straight to curly like mine did!”
“Ugh! Too much work. Take your ringlet-ridden hair out of my room.”
“But, but, but…” Kim whimpers.
“Be gone! It’s a very nice blouse.”
Kim pouts, a little smirk hiding behind her not-so-poker-face. “Thank you.”
Kim dries and styles her hair, boosting the curl to its full potential. She applies brown eye shadow and eyeliner to bring out the blue in her eyes. She covers up the few annoying little red spots that have been appearing regularly on her smooth rosy cheeks for some time now. She has fewer wrinkles than most women her age, which she believes may have something to do with the lack of pore-clogging foundation or other kinds of makeup that she applies to her skin, but whenever she notices a new wrinkle, it bothers her just the same. She shifts and lifts the skin near her eyes, neck, and then lips to see what certain adjustments to her face might look like.
“We’re late, mom.” Adrian appears in the doorway of the bathroom.
“How late?” Kim says.
“Shit, okay. Do you have all your things?”
Adrian nods and Kim hurries to the closet to get her coat.
“Can you grab my lunch from the fridge, please?” she asks.
He rushes to the kitchen and swings the door open. He returns with a green-lidded Tupperware container and puts it in Kim’s lunch bag for her.
“Can you take some meat out of the freezer for dinner tonight? I don’t care what; I’ll figure out what to do with it when I get home,” Kim says to Oriana.
“Sure!” Oriana calls back.
Kim and Adrian yank their shoes on and zip their jackets up tightly, and soon they are out the door. They walk several blocks together, practicing their Spanish as they go, talking about Adrian’s classes, reminding each other of their upcoming and long-awaited school trip to Spain. Once they reach Camosun Street, they pause and Kim gives Adrian a kiss on the cheek, and somehow he is not embarrassed even though Victoria High School is just two blocks away.
Kim continues with her walk to work, zigzagging down the streets that have the most houses with lush, flowery gardens. Sometimes she stops and smells the ones in bloom, because, to her, there is nothing better than blossoming flowers in the springtime.
Also, what do you think about the title? Halp?